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AAA discovers benefits of Salesforce Service Cloud software

Using Salesforce Live Agent and Salesforce Service Cloud, AAA Carolinas increased member engagement by 330% and reduced service response time by 54%.

AAA Carolinas needed to bring more cohesion to its traditionally separate businesses, including its well-known roadside assistance program, insurance, travel agency and auto repair services.

The regional branch of the 117-year-old organization, which serves both North Carolina and South Carolina, saw the benefits of Salesforce Service Cloud to bring the different operations closer together. AAA Carolinas also turned to Salesforce Live Agent and other Service Cloud software tools to better connect the array of services.

"One of our challenges was we were operating each of our businesses within ecosystems that couldn't talk to each other," said Dusty Holcomb, SVP of member experience and analytics at AAA Carolinas. "The data was in silos."

Improving service with Service Cloud

Salesforce Service Cloud is among the leaders in the customer service space, separating itself in industry surveys such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant for customer engagement and the Forrester Wave for customer service. According to the 2018 "Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center" report, 65% of the prospects surveyed shortlisted Salesforce as their first or second choice.

Dusty Holcomb, SVP of member experience and analytics, AAA Carolinas	Dusty Holcomb

AAA Carolinas first saw the potential benefits of Salesforce Service Cloud in 2016 in its travel agency sector, seeing travel agent commissions and revenue grow by 33% after it started using the cloud-based CRM system. Holcomb acknowledged that factors outside of technology -- such as the economy -- also contributed to that business success, but he said the Service Cloud software helped the travel agency department better manage its customers and build stronger relationships.

"We didn't have a crystalized process that enabled our travel agents to ask the right questions," Holcomb said, adding that by bringing together data from different aspects of AAA's business, it was able to recognize customers that licensed more than one service from them and provide better assistance with that knowledge.

The benefits of Salesforce Service Cloud also included enabling AAA Carolinas to find other sources of revenue by easing the flow of data through departments.

A popular AAA Carolinas service is passport photo and international drivers permit requests. By building customer relationships with Service Cloud, agents can now cross-sell other services, such as trip planning.

"Using Salesforce, we began to notice and capture those opportunities," Holcomb said. "We weren't good at recognizing that before."

Integrating Service Cloud

One of our challenges was we were operating each of our businesses within ecosystems that couldn't talk to each other.
Dusty HolcombSVP of member experience and analytics, AAA Carolinas

While Salesforce Service Cloud is a pillar of the customer service industry, the system has some shortcomings, according to the Gartner report. Integrating data from legacy systems can be difficult and requires careful installation. AAA Carolinas worked with Salesforce architects to migrate from its in-house technology to Service Cloud software.

Also, customers have expressed concerns about pricing and vendor lock-in after integrating multiple Salesforce components or adding third-party software, according to Gartner.

Holcomb said that using the new technology is not an easy process, and that friction can come from both the technology and the business.

"There was some pushback [from end users]," Holcomb said of the implementation. "But pushback is great. You just need to bring a solution."

Holcomb added that AAA Carolinas is still looking at using more Salesforce software beyond Service Cloud and Salesforce Live Agent, with the goal of keeping all customer interactions within the Salesforce ecosystem. "We're not there yet," Holcomb said. "Our vision is that every transaction will start and end in Salesforce so we can track all our customers."

This was last published in March 2019

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